Leadership: India Goes Cold Start

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May 22, 2006: The Indians have been doing a lot of investment in modernizing their command and control systems. They're working on what they call a "Cold Start" capability, that is, to be able to go to war immediately, with minimal preliminary fuss. At least one corps, II Corps, which is near the Pakistani border, is currently testing Cold Start capabilities in a major exercise.

"Cold Start" is nothing new, it was something that evolved during the Cold War. Russia was expected to be preparing to use such a tactic in the 1980s, although it apparently never got beyond the planning stage. But the thought of it forced NATO forces to respond with their "come as you are war" doctrine. To make this work, you have to adjust your training schedules and war plans. And you have to practice. You also need first class communications and highly trained staff officers. All of this is within Indian capabilities, and they were already upgrading their communications. What will be really expensive, though, will be the training. Lots of fuel will be burned, equipment will be worn out, but the result will be a much more effective force.

The Cold Start doctrine will also require the air force and navy to achieve similar levels of training and readiness. Moreover, the three services will have to mesh their peace time training and planning to a level never before achieved by the Indians. The United States has taken the lead in this combined-services activity, so the Indians will have a model to examine for trouble spots, and solutions.

India going Cold Start makes its neighbor Pakistan nervous. The two nations are each others chief adversaries, most likely opponent in a future war, and both have nuclear weapons. Pakistan fears that India is preparing a first strike capability, a strategy that involves attempting to destroy Pakistan's nuclear forces before they can be used. Now, with Cold Start, the Indians could also rush in, defeat Pakistan's conventional forces, and settle half a century of disputes once and for all.

 


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